The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, RZSS, found itself in need of a helping hand when it lost a Japanese Macaque monkey. This famous breed – known for their cheeky grins – are used to living in the north and the cold, but one was clearly cunning enough to escape the enclosure at Highland Wildlife Park near Inverness in Scotland.
UPDATE 13:39: It has now been reported that the missing monkey has been tranquilised, ending the five-day hunt.
After its escape, it was spotted trying to eat from a bird feeder (if only it had been one of the best bird feeder cameras). After that, the drone team were brought in but the monkey still had a head start!
The species, known to scientists as Macaca fuscata, are more commonly known as snow monkeys (plenty of photographers will recognise them from the work of photographers like Michael Freeman – indeed the species is very popular with photographers).
They can live from 6 to 32 years but only get to about 60 cm / 23 inches tall and weigh about 10kg (22 pounds) so are pretty difficult to find once you've misplaced one, especially with all of the Scottish highlands to cover.
Experts BH Wildlife – working under contract – spotted the monkey, nicknamed Kingussie Kong, using a combination of thermal camera and zoom to conduct the search (at least when Scottish weather allowed). The thermal camera made it possible to see the small monkey's body warmth as it travelled even through thick undergrowth, then the operator switched to a tighter telephoto lens to confirm it was the animal in question.
The process still took days because yesterday, Wednesday, was more or less a no-fly day given the wind, while today the monkey's progress is being followed from the air and experts are closing in.
It was finally caught on Thursday in more favourable conditions only around 300m (a fifth of a mile) from the zoo, though it had travelled as far as two miles. Staff are checking him over.